Why did I get a dog?
As I drove the streets of my neighborhood, scanning yards, I wondered how far Walter could have gotten by now. He could have gone down any of these side streets. My heart lurched. What if he changed directions and went the other way, toward the busy street?
I had only had Walter for a few months. When I went to the Humane Society, I had planned to take my time and be sensible. Then I saw this silly mutt sitting in his little prison cell, with those big sad eyes. He looked like a German Shepherd crossed with some shorter, huskier breed. The adoption counselor told me he was on death row. There were lots of people clustered around the beautiful Golden Retriever. No one was looking at Walter. I was a goner.
I had decided recently that I needed to be walking Walter every day, but it was a challenge. He wanted to go up every driveway and explore, or he wanted to walk down the middle of the street. Today, he had simply stopped and refused to take another step.
I coaxed. He ignored me. I tugged. He dug in his heels. I pulled. He took two steps back, his front legs slipping right through the harness strap.
It was still half on his body. I, of course, was carrying a big bag of dog poop. I dropped it and grabbed the harness. The bag spilled all over the street.
Now what? Getting him into the new harness in the first place had involved chasing him all over my house until I managed to corner him. There was no way I could slip the thing the rest of the way off and get it back on him in the middle of the street. And I couldn’t pick up an eighty pound dog and carry him home.
Walter made the decision for me. He gave a wiggle and another step back, and he was free. He ran away, glancing over his shoulder to laugh at me as he skedaddled.
I picked up the poop in the street and walked home to get my car.
Now as I drove around looking for him, I wondered why I had thought a dog was a good idea. I was a cat person. I didn’t know anything about dogs.
When I finally found him, he was standing in the middle of someone’s flower bed, sniffing a garden gnome. He lifted a leg and peed on it.
The relief was overwhelming. I didn’t know whether to give him a big hug or whack him with a rolled up newspaper. But I couldn’t do either until I got him into the car.
I flung open the passenger door and called his name. His head shot up and he stared at me. I called him again and he bounded up to the car, sniffing the open door. He sat and cocked his head, regarding me with bright eyes.
“Come on,” I coaxed, patting the passenger seat. I was careful to keep any trace of anger out of my voice. “Come on, Walter. Hop in!”
He stood, and ran back to the flower bed. I knew if I got out of the car he’d take off again.
“Walter! Come here! Come on.”
He looked at me, and I patted my thigh. He ran back up to the car. And all the way around the car, pausing to lick the driver side window. He was having the best day of his doggy life.
“Come on.” I patted the passenger seat again. “Walter?”
He hopped in. I grabbed him and hit the gas.
In the movies, when someone does that the door slams shut. In real life, it did not. I couldn’t reach far enough to grab the door handle and I was afraid to stop. I ended up driving one-handed down the middle of the street, clutching Walter with the other hand and trying not to hit anything with the open door.
I pressed the gas pedal, then the brakes, then the gas, then the brakes. A kid on a bike stopped and stared at me, open mouthed. Walter sat beside me, panting happily.
I jammed the accelerator again and the door slammed shut. Walter yelped and leapt into the backseat.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no!”
Had I caught his tail in the door?
He jumped into the front seat again and licked my arm. It must have just scared him.
When I pulled into my driveway, I checked his tail and it was fine. I left him in the car and I went inside so we could have a little Time Out. Mine involved wine.
I was sitting on the couch adjusting the harness straps tighter while sipping my wine when I began to feel lonely. Walter liked to stretch out next to me with his head on my leg, or sprawl on top of my feet. The living room felt empty without him.
I went out to the car to get him.
Boy, do I love that stupid dog.